Big, Small Steps, Move Quickly” were the summary findings of the
Industry 4.0 Roundtable arranged by A.T. Kearney, Ekuiti Nasional Bhd
(Ekuinas) and Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
struck me that the Pakatan Harapan government would be well-served to
take up this mantra in pursuing its political and economic initiatives.
instance, how can we apply this to the tragicomedy of Jho Taek Low (or
Jho Low), the story of which has hardly gone according to script from
the soapbox days of promises on the GE14 campaign trail.
Where’s the rapid-fire justice, the public reckoning and the return of the pilfered billions promised to the rakyat?
what we have broadcast to the local and foreign public is that we,
Malaysians, cannot accomplish this objective without the United States’
Department of Justice (DOJ) or some other external assistance.
#1: The opportunity we have is enormous: We have aggrandised Jho Taek
Low, a key figure in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal, to the point
of near invincibility. But what’s his reality? Scurrying in the
backwaters like a rat with third-rate country passports.
is that Malaysia can flush him out easily if we simply apply pressure
on the nerve that rattles him, namely, his money.
happened when Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed seized Equanimity
from her berth in Indonesia? Jho Low immediately cried foul via his
lawyers and PR mouthpieces. Or when his family assets in Penang were
frozen? Again he squealed out loud that he was being “politically
Lesson #2. Think global once in a while: Good old Jho
Low would have gladly given up former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak,
his wife Datin Rosmah Mansor and her son Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the
Arabs and the Chinese on a sizzling hot plate if we had just kept the
We should have gone after the Park Lane Hotel in New
York, or his Basquiat art collection at the Geneva Freeport. More than
anything else, he hates losing his toys! He comes running to the
megaphone every time anyone presses one of those buttons.
#3: Take small steps towards big goals: When the DOJ cut their deal with
Jho Low a few days back, he triumphantly said that he had resolved the
matter amicably and with no admission of guilt.
He can’t help himself. It’s a tell, like Trump’s “People are saying” catchphrase every time he delivers another whopper.
#4: Keep learning from the process: So far we have made ourselves look
like an inconsequential and powerless vassal who can only get their way
if the Americans let us. If you look at how we have handled the 1MDB
asset recovery, this is a clear pattern. We talk big at home, and do
Tactically, we have shown ourselves to be rank
amateurs. Instead of fighting Goldman Sachs in New York where it would
hurt them, we filed criminal charges against their top executives in
They didn’t even bother with a reaction. All we ended up doing was close our capital markets to the big foreign banks.
#5: Co-create the desired result: In short, what the Jho Low saga shows
is Malaysia’s insecurity in asserting itself on the global stage, and
its lack of sophistication in fighting fire with fire.
our civil servants against the world’s top lawyers, bankers, and press
executives. Jho Low hired Chris Christie to cut his DOJ deal, and
America’s top litigator David Boies was also retained by him.
desperately need an international team with the relevant expertise. What
we have to understand is that taking legal action in Malaysia won’t
work since the stolen assets are not here but overseas.
think it’s the job of foreign governments to get back Malaysia’s money
for us, but it is not. Malaysia needs to vigorously pursue its rights in
foreign courts. There’s no shame in using the best minds on the planet
to realise our goals when we need to.
Lesson #6: Let’s stop
underestimating ourselves: Jho Low is simply an illustration of the
larger problem. Malaysia has been showing the same insecurity against
prosecuting previous administration officials and in managing the
economy, foreign investment, political reforms, etc, for far too long.
It’s time for a change.
has been given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to transform itself from
opposition politicians banging on the table into grown-ups wearing the
pants and getting things done.
I think this is the main reason the
average voter is upset. Jho Low – still at large and traveling freely
with multiple passports – is a symptom of a big underlying problem which
needs to be addressed.
The good news is that Pakatan still has
about three and half years to turn the ship of state around. Our Captain
has achieved the almost impossible by getting us through the storm of
the previous kleptocratic government, and for that, the nation will
always be grateful.
Now, we must move quickly to recognise that
there are first mates, engineers and deckhands who can help us reach the
destination quickly for the benefit of all Malaysians in the New
Dr. Rais Hussin is President & CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based upon rigorous research.